BBC Ideas

Is 2023 the year you want to engage more people with your research? Are you keen to share your big (or small) idea with the world? Have you ever wanted to help make a video or short film?

The Social Sciences Division's Research, Impact and Engagement Team is excited to launch a new partnership with BBC Ideas this year, which will see the co-production of 4-6 videos to be published on the BBC ( and University of Oxford websites. We’re looking for exciting new research ideas - as well as new perspectives on older ones - to feature in this co-production, which is aimed at a general audience of under-35s. 

Partnership and call launch

Watch a YouTube video of the call launch (requires SSO login), including guidance and advice from BBC Ideas Editor, Bethan Jinkinson (Tuesday 7 February 2023).

About BBC Ideas

BBC Ideas thumbnail

BBC Ideas films are short (usually in the region of 5 minutes) but are designed to leave the audience learning something they genuinely didn’t know before and/or give them a fresh perspective on a topic. They aim for an engaging watch that leaves people with genuine take-homes - the kind of thing you might chat with your friends about and say “Did you know…?”.

BBC Ideas commissions both film and animation, and tries to avoid anything that would be covered by BBC News. The objective is not to provide head-on news or current affairs, but rather to explore underlying issues/take a broader perspective etc. Their films are relatively evergreen, and will often be re-promoted multiple times. That said, films are generally commissioned on subjects that feel 'of now' and are in some way zeitgeisty - not too detached from reality - or on topics that feel timeless and universal. A news “hook” (even a loose one) is always useful in terms of getting that initial promotion.

Films are promoted via the BBC News website, the BBC homepage and social media channels (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok where suitable). BBC Ideas is keen that its films represent diversity in all its forms. You can see examples of recent BBC Ideas films below.


The call for expressions of interest will be open to all faculty members and research staff from departments in the Social Sciences Division. Fixed term researchers are particularly encouraged to apply. Established academics can nominate themselves or members of their research team to take part - this might include doctoral students and research staff. Students are not eligible to apply.

Broad themes that BBC Ideas are particularly interested in pursuing as part of this series include:

  • Economics/cost of living - e.g. unexpected impacts of a financial squeeze
  • Mental health
  • Climate change and environment
  • Work/leadership
  • Technology and society

Please don’t feel limited by these subject areas - they are just an indication of the kinds of things BBC Ideas is interested in.

Selection criteria

  • Does the idea showcase excellent, innovation and interesting research and the work of Oxford academics to a wide audience?
  • Does it feel like a BBC Ideas film? i.e. will there be some new / interesting / surprising takes for people watching?
  • Will it be of wide interest to under-35 audiences? Can the idea be encapsulated in a simple headline?
  • Has BBC Ideas done it before, or something very similar? Google if you're not sure!
  • Does it feel in some way 'of now' / zeitgeisty, without straying into news / current affairs? Or, if not, does it feel of universal / timeless interest?
  • Can you imagine discussing this with your friends?

How to express your interest

Submit your expression of interest here

Deadline for submissions: 5pm, Tuesday 28 February 2023

Some examples of recent BBC Ideas films

Five mysteries about our Universe

Why morning light is so crucial to your health

What’s the difference between love and lust?

The fascinating world of fungi

Three invaluable tools to boost your resilience

What would a world without antibiotics be like?

The woman whose paintings changed science forever

Five things you never knew about whiskers